Now here's a Galaxy far, far away: Samsung stalls Fold rollout after fold-able screens break in hands of reviewers

You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run

Samsung has confirmed that its dual-screen Galaxy Fold handset, which was due to go on sale for $1,980 apiece this week in the US, has been delayed due to the touchscreen easily breaking.

Early builds of the fold-able Fold were given out to selected journalists to review and praise earlier this month, though, within days of use the devices started to suffer catastrophic failures.

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One scribe found debris had worked its way under the screen, causing it to break, and at least a couple of other reviewers peeled off a plastic layer from the screen, causing the fold-able screen to flicker and die. As the journos noted, while the documentation accompanying the Android smartphone warned against removing the protective layer, it wasn't immediately obvious that the polymer veneer shouldn't be peeled off, and plenty of normal folks will do the same when it gets into buyers' hands.

With that feedback in mind, and amid various negative reviews published over or before the weekend, Sammy has now halted the Fold's rollout.

"We have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks," Samsung said in a statement today.

"We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold."

Here's the full statement in case it vanishes later:

We recently unveiled a completely new mobile category: a smartphone using multiple new technologies and materials to create a display that is flexible enough to fold. We are encouraged by the excitement around the Galaxy Fold.

While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience.

To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks.

Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge. There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance.

We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold.

We value the trust our customers place in us and they are always our top priority. Samsung is committed to working closely with customers and partners to move the industry forward. We want to thank them for their patience and understanding.

At the very least this will mean more obvious warnings not to peel stuff off the screen – something Samsung engineers presumably thought that people wouldn't do. Odd, since for many part of the joy of a new phone is peeling off the factory-fitted screen protectors, and clearly even tech savvy reviewers fell prey to temptation.

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The plans to "strengthen the display protection" could be more problematic however, with some industry watchers suggesting that the South Korean giant has stumbled into a fundamental design blunder that may doom the Fold as a beautiful idea slain by an ugly fact.

Samsung's designers made the new handset's screen fold in on itself, protecting the touchscreen when closed up, whereas Huawei's Mate X foldable handset folds out, with the screen wrapping around the outside of the phone. While Huawei's approach exposes the Mate X's screen to more wear and tear, being wrapped around the outside of the handset, Samsung's inward design has a much tighter fold, with a severe angle that may put too much stress on the display and its mechanisms.

Both handsets have reportedly suffered problems with screen creasing, though Samsung's issues appear more serious. It's unlikely the chaebol will give up on foldable phones, but it's clear a rethink is needed. ®




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